Intended for healthcare professionals


Dementia patient’s euthanasia was lawful, say Dutch authorities

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 21 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7510
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

A decision in the Netherlands to approve the euthanasia of a woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease has raised questions over how far mercy killing can apply to patients with dementia.

Under Dutch law doctors performing euthanasia must ensure that the patient has made a voluntary and well considered request. This requirement has generally excluded patients with advanced dementia, as they are no longer considered competent to express their wishes.

Now the Euthanasia Assessment Committee, to which doctors must report the cases of patients they have helped to die, has made an exception in the case of one woman, emphasising her long history of requesting euthanasia and the degree of communication still possible at her death.

It is seen …

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